Hyderabad: Defending champions Bengaluru Raptors will look to secure the last semifinal spot when they lock horns with Awadhe Warriors in a must-win final league match of the fifth season of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) on Thursday.
With North Eastern Warriors, Chennai Superstarz and Pune 7 Aces having confirmed their places in the semifinals, the fourth spot is still up for grabs.
Bengaluru remains at an advantage as of now with 17 points in the bag, three points adrift of the fifth-placed Awadhe Warriors.
The Raptors are coming into the match after a 5-0 demolition of Mumbai Rockets. While World No 2 Tai Tzu Ying has been their talisman and has remained unbeaten so far, it is B Sai Praneeth who played a pivotal role in their win.
Showing nerves of steel, the World Championships bronze medallist edged 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap in a tense and thrilling encounter that ended 15-14, 14-15, 15-14 in Sai's favour.
The World No 11 Indian will look for another confident show under pressure when he takes the court in their last league game on Thursday.
Brice Leverdez also has been impressive in his last couple of matches while the mixed doubles pair of Chan Peng Soon and Eom Hye Won clicked once again.
Awadhe Warriors, on the other hand, can still sneak into the last-four with a big win over Bengaluru.
For the Lucknow-based team, the Hyderabad leg hasn't gone the way they would have liked. They are yet to win a match in this city. They succumbed to a narrow 3-4 defeat to Chennai Superstarz and got pummelled 1-4 by the high-flying Pune 7 Aces in their most recent tie.
Losing the Trump cost them dearly and World No 14 Beiwen Zhang would look to bounce back. With Tai Tzu Ying being on the opposite side, the job will be easier said than done.
The Warriors also need their mixed doubles pair of Christinna Pedersen and Ivan Sozonov and their men's singles players to step up.
Ajay Jayaram did emerge victoriously but he also needs support from the likes of Subhankar Dey and Wong Wing Ki Vincent.
World No 24 men's doubles pair of Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol snapped the winning streak of Pune's Hendra Setiawan and Chirag Shetty and they would look to bring that same confidence and conviction against the Bengaluru Raptors on Thursday.
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Updated Date: Feb 05, 2020 19:38:03 IST